Tag Archives: family traditions

Christmas Recap: The Play by Play

This was our very *first* family Christmas morning. I say *first* because obviously we’ve been a family for a couple years now… but Christmas morning is always spent waking up slow, and then heading to one of our parent’s houses, then the other parent’s house, then in the past out to a movie, then home… 13 hours later, and exhausted. Happy, fulfilled, but exhausted. We knew going in to this Christmas that it wasn’t going to be like that, because my side of the family was mostly out of town.

{Christmas Eve at Brad’s side of the family’s party. I call this “The Evolution of a Family Picture}
Family Portrait 2

A few weeks ago I started thinking about traditions. We’re right at that prime moment as a family to start traditions. We have a few years to try some stuff out and see what we like and what we don’t, tweak and fluff traditions that we come up with, and really solidify what we want to do. So, somewhere along the way, I decided that I wanted to make homemade cinnamon rolls as a Christmas breakfast {or lunch} tradition. I figured that it couldn’t be too hard, and now that I know how to knead dough {and dissolve yeast} I should be able to do it. I bought self rising flour and a can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls, you know, just in case. The night before I read several recipes, comparing them, figuring out the important steps, how they all described the important steps, learned what “scalded milk” was {Thank you Pioneer Woman!}, and generally psyched myself up.

My eyes popped open at 8, and I made my way downstairs to start the dough, which then had to rise for an hour, then I would add stuff and make the rolls, then it had to rise for another 30 minutes, then bake for 30 minutes. Timing was everything. I got about 35 minutes into making the dough, meaning it was sitting in the bowl waiting to rise, when I realized that I’d forgotten two very important ingredients: the egg and salt. I definitely dropped a few choice words, thought about quitting, decided I didn’t care what time the rolls were done, and went upstairs to crawl back in bed with Brad.

{Zoe’s Christmas outfits}
christmas outfits

Zoe woke up as I reached the top of the stairs, so we just hung out in bed for a while. It was perfect. I sat there looking at my perfect little family, and I felt like the most blessed woman in all the world. When we headed back downstairs, I was ready for Round 2 with the rolls. Let me tell you, that egg made a huge difference in the texture of the dough. Huge. Truth be told, because I knew what I was doing, that round took a fraction of the time that the first round did. The dough was set to rise, and we gathered around our tree.

Now, between my family’s early Christmas and numerous packages she’s received in the mail, Zoe has been opening Christmas presents for an entire week. She knows exactly what to do, and she gets really excited about her presents. Every time. It’s amazing. So, due to the amount of gifts that she was receiving outside of our family, Brad and I only bought a few items: a toy laptop, an over-sized elephant, a fountain for the tub, and a foam finger. {Two days before Christmas, Brad took Zoe to the store for some more fish. That was his special present for her.} Brad and I had a few presents for each other, and then we just played with Zoe on the floor. Again, looking around the room, I was overwhelmed with a feeling of gratitude. I’d be lying if I said that my eyes didn’t get watery a time or two.

{The only family “portrait” we took that day. It’s perfect, if you ask me}
Family portrait 1

By the time we finished playing and eating a make-shift breakfast of eggs and toast because the rolls were nowhere near done, Zoe started acting like she needed a nap. So, she got one. That gave me time to slather on the cinnamon and sugar and roll up my rolls, and then we had to wait some more. Zoe slept just as long as the rolls needed to rise and then bake, and let me tell you, those few minutes right before the rolls were done, and the smell was wafting through the house… I knew this tradition was a keeper.

{The evolution of the cinnamon rolls. I’m telling you, it’s not for the faint of heart. It’s time consuming, messy, and sometimes tricky. But, worth every second.}
cinnamon rolls 3

After 3 1/2 hours of prep and 30 minutes of baking, I pulled out the most delicious looking cinnamon rolls ever! There was definitely fist pumps in the air, and dancing, and hootin’ and hollerin’. Brad laughed at me. I couldn’t contain my excitement. These rolls were perfect. And, then I realized that I didn’t have any powdered sugar for the frosting. Womp Womp. I improvised, threw in some regular sugar, added a little cream cheese to the mixture, and made an OK icing. It wasn’t bad, but it could’ve been a heck of a lot better. And then, the moment I waited for all morning… one delicious bite went into my mouth…. and it was worth every OUNCE of waiting. Zoe tasted a bite, walked to the dishwasher, opened it, grabbed not one, but two, forks out of it, walked back to the cinnamon rolls and held them both in the air. I about died laughing.

{Freaking Perfection. Next time my goal is a Cinnabun type icing….}
cinnamon rolls 2

At that point, it was noon, and we needed to head over to Brad’s parent’s house. So, we moseyed our way over there. Brad’s brother and sister-in-law were with her parents, so it was just me, Brad, Zoe, Janet and Glen. Quieter than usual, but perfect nonetheless. They were feeling the same thing for Christmas that we were… no need to rush, slow, relaxing, no schedule, nowhere to be…. perfect. I don’t remember feeling so relaxed on Christmas. It was amazing. Janet, as usual, had a ton of present for us to open, and again, Zoe stole the show. We laughed and talked and opened present slowly. I enjoyed every second of it.

Christmas Presents

We spent the afternoon lounging around, I was able to read more of the Steve Jobs book, Zoe hung out with her Gammy and Glen and Brad watched basketball. Around 4 we sat down to eat, and about halfway through dinner I looked over at Zoe and realized that she was about 2 minutes away from falling asleep in her highchair. Sure enough, her blinks started getting longer and longer, and then she just passed out. Talk about adorable! We just left her there and enjoyed our supper. It was great!

{Can you see that she has a fork in her right hand?}
Christmas nap

Towards 6pm we headed back over to our house to meet my sister {who was supposed to go to Texas but got sick and stayed home} and Kristin was coming over too. The four of us hung out for a few hours, and then after they headed home Brad and I cuddled up on the couch to watch a movie.

I’ve written over 1,000 words in this post, but I don’t think I could even put into words how perfect Christmas day was. We are so blessed with family and friends. I’m so thankful for my little family. Truly, the best things in life are free.

{The many Christmas faces of Zoe}
Christmas for Zoe

How was your Christmas?

Happy Tuesday Ya’ll!

PS. If you want the recipe that I used for the cinnamon rolls click here. It’s Paula Deen’s recipe, but I warn you. She lies about the amount of time it takes. =)

Things I hope I never forget

– Yesterday Zoe took a really long nap in the afternoon. We’re slowly getting rid of her morning nap {at her request} and yesterday was one of the days where she didn’t take it at all. On top of that, she’s been sick the past several days. Teething. Again. My child gets a pretty severe cold with every tooth that she cuts. At least I know what to expect now, although hearing her cough and looking into her sad watery eyes never gets any easier. My point is, she slept. Hard. And for like 3 1/2 hours. I was so ready to get her when she woke up… it’s crazy how much you can miss your baby when they’re taking a nap, while at the same time loving every single second of silence. At her first cry I raced upstairs and swooped her up in my arms. She cuddled right in to my neck, wrapped both hands around me and up in to my hair, and then she twirled it like she does 5,000 times a day. It melted my heart.

after nap

– While we’re on the subject of Zoe. I hope I never forget her expressions in this age. They are so dramatic and so freaking hilarious. One of my favorite, and the picture I’m about to show you isn’t the best example, is her eyebrow raise. Those eyebrow muscles must be the strongest muscles in her entire body, because she works them out hard every single day. I love it. I love her little personality, or her BIG personality in a little person’s body.

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– I hope I never forget what it feels like to have such a tiny little body snuggled up as close as possible, with a little tiny hand on my forearm as we read books together 538 times a day. It’s just the best.

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– I hope I never forget the example of friendship that Ann showed us this weekend. Ann was my sister’s best friend when she lived in Kuwait. Originally she’s from Canada, but she’s been teaching internationally for 5 years now. This year she’s teaching in Korea. When she found out that Jessica was getting married she went to her principal to get time off. She flew from Korea 19 hours to spend 2 days with Jessica and 1 day shopping, and then she flew <em24 hours BACK to Korea…. just to be at her friend’s wedding…. First of all, do you know how much that trip costs????? Secondly, do you understand the amount of jet lag that she’s going to experience? Third, can you imagine how much that meant to my sister? She cried for days when she found out that Ann was coming. Everybody needs friends like Ann in their life.

ann

– And finally, I hope I never forget that Christmas starts the day AFTER Thanksgiving! People, seriously?!?!?! What is the deal? All over Facebook I’m seeing status updates of people who have already decorated their house for Christmas {I know some of you are reading this post…don’t get offended, please, I mean no offense}. I know one family who’s tradition it is to decorate the week before Thanksgiving because they’re pastors at a church and the holiday season is b-u-s-y at church. I get that. But, for the majority of Americans? We’re just jumping the gun. Let the big department stores jump the gun…that’s annoying enough…buy your Christmas cards early, buy a few decorations early…sure. But, the beauty of Christmas is that it’s a special time…it’s this short window between Thanksgiving and New Years where everything is magical and lights twinkle in the night. We’re going to lose the magic if we jump on the November bandwagon. Don’t get me wrong, I love decorating for Christmas. I love my Christmas decorations. I buy snowmen so that I can keep them up through the winter after I’ve put the “Christmas Christmas” decorations away {After New Year’s}…but I decorate during that long weekend. And it’s special. And it’s magical. And it’s wonderful… and I hope that it always stays that way. For 2 more weeks, this is all the decoration you’re going to see at my house…and it’s only because she’s just so darned cute!

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Happy Tuesday Ya’ll!

PS…Seriously, please don’t be offended if you’ve already decorated for Christmas. Chances are, if we were having a face to face conversation, I would tell you the same thing…you would say, “Yeah..but I like them out. And I just wanted to do it.” And I would laugh and say, “Well…alrighty then. They’re pretty!” And then we would talk about all your favorite decorations and deals that we found in stores.

PPS. I’m opinionated…but I truly don’t really care what you do. Whatever floats your boat…you know?